School of Information Management & Systems.   Fall 2000.
142  Access to American Cultural Heritages.   Buckland.

Assignment 6: Visit an exhibit. Due Nov 16.

Exhibits are not accidental. Considerable resources and expertise are required to mount an exhibit. Exhibits must necessarily have some perspective, otherwise the selection of items to present and the way in which they are presented would have no organized basis.

Visit and comment on an exhibit with a social, political, or cultural message: A small museum with a theme (e.g. an ethnic museum), a historic monument (e.g. Miwok village at Point Reyes), art museum (esp. a special exhibit), a corporate history presentation, or any similar presentation that is likely to reflect some perspective or message concerning society or history. (Single artist and narrowly scientific or technological exhibits are usually unsatisfactory for this assignment).

Write an "exhibit review" much as you would a book review. Consider (but don't feel limited to) the following questions as applicable:

  1. The exhibit itself: What is the theme? The stated topic? What is exhibited? What is the underlying message? What is the perspective? Whose perspective? Who is presenting it, who funding it, and why? How is it done? How well is it explained? How much prior knowledge does it assume? How much prior knowledge does or preparation did you have?
  2. Alternative means: What other material might have been selected? What is (or may be) missing? What other "voices" could there be? What other perspectives might have been possible?
  3. Conclusions: How would you want to do it differently? How do you evaluate it overall? To whom would you recommend it?
Spend at least two hours reading up on the topic beforehand. Mention how you prepared for it. Newspapers carry reviews of major exhibits when they open. Submit a written review of, say, 3 pages single-spaced, not forgetting questions 2 and 3. Be prepared to discuss in class.

Share your experience with the rest of the class by sending a 10-20 line summary as e-mail addressed to

Where to go? The pink Datebook section of each Sunday's S. F. Chronicle / Examiner has useful listings under "Art - Museums", "Events", "Exhibits" and "Kids" sections near the front. Also the Express in Section 2: Billboard. The Berkeleyan lists campus exhibits. There are descriptive guides to museums and historic sites in California as well as tourist guide books. Visit somewhere off-campus if you can, many exhibits are easily accessible on BART, e.g. the Oakland Museum (Lake Merritt station). VIAonline has a searchable online database of event and exhibits. Other websites include: has lots of Bay Area art and museum choices. Museums in California. for a few Bay Area Museums.
Searching is a good way to find reviews. Museums often arrange for guided tours of exhibits by docents and, sometimes, a talk by the person who curated the exhibit. Museums often have free days, that may be more crowded. Enjoy!
Re-read these instructions before going on the visit.